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THE FOURTH LETTER.

Reverend Sir,”

“Whatever is the occasion of my not seeing the force of your reasonings, I cannot impute it to (what you do) the want of clearness in your expression. I am too well acquainted with myself to think my not understanding an argument a sufficient reason to conclude that it is either improperly expressed, or not conclusive, unless I can clearly show the defect of it. It is with the greatest satisfaction, I must tell you, that the more I reflect on your first argument the more I am convinced of the truth of it; and it now seems to me altogether unreasonable to suppose absolute necessity can have any relation to one part of space more than to another; and, if so, an absolutely-necessary being must exist everywhere.

“I wish I was as well satisfied in respect to the other. You 428say, all substances, except the self-existent one, are in space, and are penetrated by it: All substances, doubtless, whether body or spirit, exist in space; but when I say that a spirit exists in space, were I put upon telling my meaning, I know not how I could do it any other way than by saying such a particular quantity of space terminates the capacity of acting in finite spirits at one and the same time, so that they cannot act beyond that determined quantity. Not but that I think there is somewhat in the manner of existence of spirits in respect of space, that more directly answers to the manner of the existence of body; but what that is, or of the manner of their existence, I cannot possibly form an idea. And it seems (if possible) much more difficult to determine what relation the self-existent being hath to space: To say he exists in space, after the same manner that other substances do, (somewhat like which I too rashly asserted in my last,) perhaps would be placing the Creator too much on a level with the creature; or, however, it is not plainly and evidently true: And to say the self-existent substance is the substratum of space, in the common sense of the word, is scarce intelligible, or at least is not evident. Now, though there may be an hundred relations distinct from either of these, yet how we should come by ideas of them I cannot conceive. We may indeed have ideas to the words, and not altogether depart from the common sense of them, when we say the self-existent substance is the substratum of space, or the ground of its existence: But I see no reason to think it true, because space seems to me to be as absolutely self-existent as it is possible any thing can be: So that, make what other supposition you please, yet we cannot help supposing immense space, because there must be either an infinity of being, or (if you will allow the expression) an infinite vacuity of being. Perhaps it may be objected to this, that though space is really necessary, yet the reason of its being necessary, is its being a property of the self-existent substance, and that it being so evidently necessary, and its dependence on the self-existent substance not so evident, we are ready to conclude it absolutely self-existent, as well as necessary; and that this is the reason why the idea of space forces itself on our minds, antecedent to, and exclusive of (as to the ground of its existence) all other things. Now this, though it is really an objection, yet it is no direct answer to what I have said, because it supposes the only thing to be proved, viz. that the reason why space is necessary is its being a property of a self-existent substance; and supposing it not to be evident that space is absolutely self-existent, yet, while it is doubtful, we cannot argue as though the contrary were certain and we were sure that space was only a 429property of the self-existent substance. But now, if space be not absolutely independent, I do not see what we can conclude is so; for it is manifestly necessary itself, as well as antecedently needful to the existence of all other things, not excepting, (as I think) even the self-existent substance.

“All your consequences, I see, follow demonstrably from your supposition, and, were that evident, I believe it would serve to prove several other things as well as what you bring it for: Upon which account, I should be extremely pleased to see it proved by any one; for, as I design the search after truth as the business of my life, I shall not be ashamed to learn from any person, though at the same time I cannot but be sensible that instruction from some men is like the gift of a prince; it reflects an honour on the person on whom it lays an obligation.

“I am, Reverend Sir,

“Your obliged Servant.”

Dec. 16. 1713.

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